Sunday, January 29, 2012

Crocheted Rag Rug Tutorial: Part One

In the construction of the two rag rugs I've crocheted, I've used 100% cotton fabric. You can use any fabric of your choice. I'm guessing denim or wool or a wool blend would be more difficult to work with. Jersey or some such softer fabric, like that from t-shirts, would be easier to work with than the 100% cotton. Old sheets would be a good choice as they'd be soft and pliable plus you'd get a lot of mileage (strips) out of them.

The crochet hook I use (in the center of above picture) is a big one. It measures 3/8" in diameter, but has no marking on it as to what regulation size it might be. In the picture, you can see how big it is in comparison to the size of a standard pencil and also as compared to a Size K hook which is the largest one in my set of crochet hooks. I haven't checked it out myself but I'm wondering if a giant hook of this size would be readily available at one of the large fabric or craft stores.

The strips of fabric I use are cut 1-1/2" wide. You can make these strips by marking your fabric with a pencil or pen and then cutting with scissors but using an acrylic ruler, rotary cutter and mat make the job much, much easier and quicker. And you are going to be cutting a LOT of strips.

You can cut your strips from the width of your fabric (usually 42" to 44" wide) or you can cut the strips parallel to the selvage of the fabric. That way if you have a piece of fabric 2 yards long, your strip will be 72" long compared to 40-some inches long. Since you will need to join your strips together, the longer strips mean less piecing.

I join my strips with a 1/4" seam on the sewing machine. This could easily be done by hand using thread and needle but is much faster using a machine.

I've found the strips of fabric are easier to crochet with if I take the time to iron them in half before using.

The above picture possibly shows how the strips are folded and ironed better than the previous one.

You can "fold as you go" when you're crocheting, but I prefer to iron them first.

If you're making a scrappy looking rug (as my demonstration rug will be) it doesn't matter how long the strips of each fabric and color are. If you have a definite color scheme in mind, you'll need enough of one fabric to complete the number of rounds (which will make the width or band of color) desired. It's amazing how fast a strip of fabric will be used up with this crocheting method (big "yarn" and big hook) so don't hesitate to make long chains of fabric.

If you have crocheted before, making one of these rugs will be easy. Only two stitches are required: a chain stitch to start your foundation row and a single crochet for the body of the rug. At the very beginning, a slip knot will be used and your last finishing stitch will be a slip stitch, both very simple.

For those of you who have never crocheted, I think the best way to learn the two stitches would be to watch a YouTube demonstration or check out a book on learning to crochet at your local library showing these simple stitches.

The actual crocheting of the rugs goes very fast. Preparing all the strips . . . not so fast. For this rug, I decided to spend some time today getting a whole bunch of strips ready.

In the next installment of this tutorial, I'll show you how to begin by making the foundation row and then we'll do a few rounds on the start of our oval rag rug.


  1. I'm pretty excited to see how the round goes, since my aunt made hers rectangle shaped. I really want to make a big oval shaped rug, so I want to make sure I can "turn the corner" correctly once I start mine. I really need (well...want) one of those rotary cutters now! It sure will come in handy cutting all those strips. :)

  2. So excited you're doing a tutorial on this. I've always wanted to know how to make a rug like that.

  3. Whoo hoo! Now I know what I'm going to do with those old flannel bed sheets I've had in my bin-o-fabric for the past five years!! Rag rug, here I come! And thanks so much for doing this tutorial!

  4. Patty - If you get a rotary cutter (you'll love it!), be sure to get a mat also. Those blades are so sharp they will slice right through anything underneath (except a mat) and you sure don't want to ruin a table or other surface. The mat also keeps the blade in the rotary cutter from getting dull.

    "Turning the corners" is the only tricky part and we'll conquer that with no problem!

    Melissa - Thanks for the nice words. I'm excited to do this one, too.

    Tombstone Livestock - Thank you, ma'am. I've never felt I was a good "teacher" so I appreciate your kind words.

    Carolyn Renee - Ooooh, FLANNEL sheets will make a great rug! I can feel my bare feet on it now!! And you're welcome!

  5. Ok, Now I know why us guy's do not Croche, knit ECT. Ironing, sewing, two kinds of stiches, OMG! I'm lucky when I can tie my own shoes and thay stayed tied for more then an hour!

  6. The only thing I can crochet is a granny square. I've actually made a couple of blankets when I was younger.
    I'm going to have to dig out some fabric or old sheets and my crochet hooks.

  7. Thanks for sharing Mama Pea:) Can't wait to see the next steps

  8. can't wait to see everyone's nice rag rugs with the excellent directions of momma pea. I follow homesteaders because it would be the life I would love to be in.I am not however and I know could still do a few of the easier things that you all do,sewing,cooking [ I do a lot of home cooking ],well maybe in my next life I will be go go momma homesteader--also it is relaxing somehow to see how all of you live even tho sometimes very hectic

  9. Hi Mama Pea ~ I love this! I was unable to comment on your rag rug post last week and was gonna' ask how to make one and now here it is! Thank you!

  10. I want to know if we get the soundtrack as well? This is going to be interesting!

  11. Tom - Hey, anybody who can use a . . . what was it you said? A scroll saw?? Anybody who can use tools like that without losing a finger or two can handle this rug. You coppin' out on us??

    Sparkless - A granny square is much more complicated than this, so you have no worries!

    Stephanie - Just stay tuned!

    judy - You handle much more than many of us do so you're doing juuust fine as you are! Don't forget that.

    Lisa - I'm not real confident in my "teaching" ability, but I'm more than willing to answer any and all questions during the process.

    Susan - The sound track? Of me saying bad words when I iron my fingers instead of the folded strips?? I'm sure you all can do without that!

  12. Awesome to have a tutorial, now I'm going to have to figure out crochet! Knitting I'm okay with, crochet just was frustrating LOL, but hubby can do it!

  13. I have always wanted to make a braided rug but when I see all that needs done to prepare the wool strips, I get turned off real quick. Just getting the strips ready for this rag rug looks like a chore. Which is why when you see the price tag for a really large braided rug, you can really understand why it is so much. And worth every penny for all that work.

  14. Erin - Maybe you have your hubby make the first rug! Then he can give any help you need when you make yours! But seriously, Erin, if you can knit as you do (cables and all) there's no reason you can't master the two easy stitches you'll need to crochet this rug.

    Jane - Yup, getting the strips ready is all part of it though. The thing about braided rugs that has always turned me off is after you get all the braiding done, you have to sew the whole thing together!

  15. I don't know about "coppin out", But there are no power tools in a "Crocheted Rag Rug"! Tim Allen would never let me live it down!

  16. Tom - I bet Tim Allen is a closet knitter! ;o}

  17. Replies
    1. Janet Brinkman - If you go over to my right hand side bar and scroll waaay down, you'll find a Search box. Type in Crocheted Rag Rug Tutorial and all of the four parts of the tutorial should show up. Hope this helps!

  18. Mama Pea, I'm so happy to find your tutorials & comments for the rag rug I've always wanted to try! After reading each tutorial & everyone's questions I'm still wondering how many yards I'll need to make the 2' by 3' oval. Wish I had that bin of old fabric! I'm staring from scratch.

    1. Hi, Susan - You know, I wish I had thought to keep track of the actual yardage I've used on one of my rugs, but because I was just using up odd pieces of fabric, I never have. The sheet of directions on making the rag rugs that I originally had said that for a 2' x 3' oval rug, you could expect to use "8 to 10 yards of scraps." I know that seems like a lot, but if you had access to scraps (perhaps sheets or tablecloths from a recycling or second hand store?), it would be like quite economical as opposed to having to go out and buy fabric.

      Good luck with your rag rug making. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

    2. Thanks! My old sheets are quivering right now....